New year party 2006, after a wet day out on the hill, the traditional Hugh quiz, the inevitable skin full of beer, and the rumours went around the crowd that Steve had come armed with if not a dream then at least a guide book. After being passed around like a dirty magazine to selected members of the crowd it left a gleam in some eyes, probably tears in others. Thus this trip was born. Akin to a good recipe the guide book, supplied by Steve 'Chipper' Wyatt himself, was baked in the alcohol of a New years party, left to rest for a few months and was finally ready to take out of the idea stage and into reality towards the end of the year. During this time there was various levels of interest, with some rashly committing themselves early, only to fall short of the mark before the off. Eventually we were left with the normal suspects: the three monkeys, that is Steve 'Chipper' Wyatt, Andy 'Where's my bag' Cross and myself.
With the party assembled we should discuss what inspired such a rag tag bunch with such enthusiasm and as the regular reader will probably realise it wasn't sitting on a beech relaxing in the sun. Our guide book laid out a cycling route from Lhasa (capital of Tibet) to Kathmandu (capital of Nepal). A quick look at a map shows that there's not much in-between so why bother? For the things this map fails to show; Everest base camp, crazy locals, high altitude, wild camping, because we can, noodle soup, more noodle soup, yet more bloody noodle soup....Ok so the noodle soup didn't light my fire either. However, sufficient reasons remain to be excited.
The set up was to strap as much as possible to three, soon to be tortured, bikes and peddle 1000km before our flights home left without us. With only the Himalayas, Chinese check points, rabid hunting dogs and mechanical failure between us and the destination what is there to worry about? The pre -departure organisation followed the familiar pattern of doing just enough at each step of the way, arguably a little too late in each case. We had the last three seats on the plane, our visa's were sorted out the same week we left and Andy's attempt at organising the kit using an online spread sheet failed to take into account that Steve would be packing the same morning we left and in such a panic that had he had time to turn his computer on and check the spread sheet it would only have served to remind him how under prepared we were. I had high hopes for a bit more on the planning front when a couple of weeks prior to the green light we all went to Andy's house to sort out visa forms and the like. In reality we had some curry, did the minimum required with the visa's, cooed over Andy's bike on it's stand (while failing to notice the inadequate tyres and front rim) and in Steve's own words 'we didn't really sort anything out there did we?'. No matter, blind optimism has served us well in the past, and while she has been known to bite we have thick skins.
Unlike other trips I packed a camera to take some video to illuminate my inadequate prose with some splashes of colour and a video diary. Having reviewed a few days worth of video a couple of points are forced home to me. A) I have larger eyebrows than my mirror suggests B) They have a life of their own when I talk to a camera. You have been warned ;-)
With the final round of packing done with the help of a set of scales at Heathrow airport in a 'just in time' manner we finally got on a plane safe in knowledge that any missing kit would just make a good story when we got home.